I’ll begin from the last post at the airport, sitting nervously for my ride. A member of Couchsurfing was scheduled to pick me up at 11am, so when it was 11:05, I began to contemplate my options. Should I wait a bit longer or think about catching a shuttle to the city? All I had was a single photo of my host, so there wasn’t much certainty on picking him out. At last a guy approached me, and asked if I was Steve. Grant immediately pointed out my Chevrolet shirt as I saw he was sporting a Nurburgring (famous racetrack in Germany) shirt. Why does a New Zealander like an American car manufacture? It became clear when we were walking to his car.
|Grant's 91 ZR1|
|Grant and Lucky|
Grant took me to his favorite bar, Swashbucklers. It has that nautical and sea ship vibe. He also introduced me to a locally brewed beer, Steinlager. I couldn’t even tell you how many I drank over the period of 4 days. At some point during our conversation a guy asked if he could sit at our outdoor table, since all the tables were occupied. Franz happened to be a 30 year old traveler from Austria. So after some conversation, Grant invited him to go out on the boat the following day.
|View from Swashbucklers|
When we arrived at Grant’s home, I was introduced to his wife Eve, and his son and daughter. Eve has that mother instinct and continually grilled me on scams and threats that I’ll be facing on my trip. She’s traveled extensively, so it was helpful to hear her experiences and stories. Grant would tell her to stop trying to scare me. Eve is an amazing cook, and prepared so many meals over the 4 days of my stay. The steak, lamb, and chicken were all delicious.
|One of Eve's delicious meals|
Grant, Eve, Franz and I went out into Auckland Harbor on their boat. We caught a good bit of snappers, and I caught a larger fish but the name escapes me now. After a few hours of fishing, Grant took the boat to a small inlet by an island where we had lunch. The whole area was littered with boats, and people were swimming and fishing. Franz and I swam 400 feet to the shoreline and walked the coast for a bit. You couldn’t move without stepping on small clam shells that lined the beach. We ate lunch and enjoyed the view before heading in, although Franz was already sleeping.
|View of Auckland from the boat|
|Grant and Eve(someone had to watch where we're going)|
|Inlet where we ate and swam|
|Eve had some olives we munched on|
On Sunday Grant and I took the Vette to the black sand beaches. The roads were long, windy, and narrow with great spots for picturesque views. There were two different beaches that we walked, both with blowing black sand and rough surf. Life guards set up posts on both beaches with a limited swimming area. That night I hung out with their son Ashton, and three of his friends in the man cave. Card playing and drinking ensued and at some point Tiffany, Ashton’s sister joined.
|Me at the black sand beaches|
|Making my way to the beach|
|From the water edge|
|Atop a mountain|
My final day was spent in Auckland. A 45 minute trip via a rail system took me into the city. I trekked through a windy and cloudy Auckland all the way to Morningdale, which is a good 6 mile walk. I talked to a woman who was working outside a business. She wanted to know how I liked New Zealand so far.
I honestly think this could be the best part of my stay in New Zealand. The four days were packed with fishing, swimming, eating, and exploring. The time I spent with my hosts was amazing. It’s nice to be invited into a home as a complete stranger, and be so welcomed from such generous people. I’ll always remember those 4 days I spent with a great family from New Zealand.
PS The next few posts will consist mainly of pictures as I have little time to write.